New Versions of Flash Media Server and Flash Player

Adobe in the News

On Monday, December 3, 2007, Adobe announced new versions of the Flash Media Server and the Flash Player. Here are some highlights:

- Flash Media Server 3:  includes two offerings; Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server 3 for live and video on-demand streaming and Adobe Flash Media Interactive Server 3 for customized scalable video streaming services plus multi-way social media applications

Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3, previously code named Moviestar now includes H.264 standard video support ­ the same standard deployed in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD high definition video players ­and High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio support

Adobe Flash Player 9, combined with Adobe Flash Media Server 3 enables the delivery of HDTV quality video to the broadest online audience and paves the way for high definition Adobe Flash experiences on consumer devices.

If you read carefully you’ll see we are offering two versions of Flash Media Server. Why? Well FMS was often compared to Windows Media Server and some people complained that the price point for FMS was too high. What they failed to realize is that FMS was more than just a video streaming server. Unlike WMS, you can program FMS using ActionScript and do a number of behind-the-scenes tasks (such as authorization) that are not possible with WMS.

Adobe has a nicely priced version of FMS that does nothing but streaming. Iif you’ve ever thought about creating your own video blog or your own movie studio, you now how have a way to deliver high-quality video to virtually every desktop in a fast, and reliable manner.

Future of Entertainment

Normally I just post these announcements, but I feel compelled to add more in this case. You see, I am a television/video junkie. There’s not much I won’t watch. Have you ever watched one your favorite programs streamed over the web? Chances are you were watching the show in the Flash Player with the video streamed with Flash Media Server. Some sites still use WMS and you can tell which ones they are. Now with Flash Player 9 Update 3, FMS can deliver HDTV quality video right to your desktop.

Having the major networks make popular shows available for streaming is a huge step toward what I believe to be, the future of in-home entertainment. Today you can use your television as a computer monitor and to watch a home improvement show you go to HGTV.com or if you want to watch a recent episode of The Office you just go to NBC.com. It is just a little clunky to get directly to the shows you want to watch.

What I don’t get is why advertisers aren’t driving this more aggressively. As you probably know, the use of TiVO (I have 3 myself) has started to raise some alarms with advertisers. People just skip over the commercials. Who wouldn’t? You want to watch the program, not someone patting themselves on the back for making a vacuum cleaner.

If you have watched a streamed video from the major networks you have noticed that it, too, has commercials. But you cannot skip over them. You are held captive and must either leave the room, close the laptop, or do whatever it is you did before you got a TiVO, to avoid them. This is what I mean – the advertisers are worried about viewership going downhill with the rise of TiVO use, yet right before their eyes is the emerging technology of video streaming over the internet. And they have total control. You can fast-forward and rewind and pause the program’s video stream ala TiVO, but come commercial time you are stuck. Some sites post a “Video will resume in # seconds” countdown clock (which I tend to watch more than the commercial) followed by ‘Click here to continue’ button (I wish the video would just start back up).

The really cool thing for advertisers about watching television programs streamed over the internet is that they have many choices in their advertisements. There is the standard commercial inserted into the video stream. There is also all the space around the video player for ads. But what’s most important, is the ability to have targeted advertising. Imagine that your location is readily available to the web page hosting the video. The advertising software can display ads for services and products local to you.

We are just at the beginning of this revolution in entertainment. Once the advertisers get a whiff of this, the money will start flowing to the web sites and the focus will be redirected. I hope this leads to a lot of improvements, but these things often get off to a rocky start. I just hope we all have the sense and patience to make this a rich and responsible way to get our entertainment in the 21st century.  If I were TiVO, I’d start planning to be a leader and not let my market dry up.